For Jennifer Koh, the pressure of performing didn’t really affect her the way it does others. At 11, she performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a world-renowned group. But Koh wasn’t intimidated by the magnitude of this opportunity.
“At that age, I didn’t have fear in the sense of being anxious about the performance,” Koh says. “Maybe it was naïveté, but either way, it was just so fun and thrilling.”
Koh will be performing “Bach and Beyond Part III” at the Missouri Theatre this Friday.
Raised with an immensely supportive backing of family and teachers, Koh found her love for the violin on accident, when spaces for cello and piano lessons were full. After rigorous practice for all of her childhood, Koh struck gold early with the invite to join one of the country’s most esteemed orchestras for a night. From there, she was hooked.
“Growing up in Chicago, my parents helped with exposing me to great classical music,” Koh says. “From the beginning, I knew I always loved music and wanted to make it what I did, but I wasn’t really conscious of how I could (do that).”
Even with the strength of her instructors –– some of the most acclaimed violin teachers in Chicago –– it took some time before Koh realized she could make a reality out of her dreams.
“It’s hard to imagine at such a young age the possibility of what I’ve done in my life being a reality,” she says. “I had a lot of important teachers growing up that made the experience of learning how to really play classical music.”
Since her childhood, Koh has become recognized for her commanding performances, delivering a sound of technical mastery and astounding virtuosity. For her entire career, she has explored works ranging in difficulty and style, delivering the sounds of both traditional and contemporary violin music.
Both as a solo performer and as a part of a full orchestra, Koh has played with the likes of nearly every major city’s orchestra, along with many impressive locations in Europe and Asia. In addition to the unbelievable musical resume Koh sports as a professional, her free time involves spreading her talents and passion to a younger demographic. As someone who had a multitude of questions about life as a professional musician when she was a child, Koh brought it upon herself to answer those questions for the future of American classical music.
“I had done a lot of work going to schools without a music program, and since then I’ve created a new nonprofit media series,” Koh says. “Essentially, it’s an outlet where I can answer the questions I had when I was younger about what its like to be in the position I’m in now.”